Yet it is also with personal sadness that I can no longer bring myself to watch the coverage of the service at the Cenotaph – to watch politicians laying wreaths, politicians who have continuously betrayed those who have served this country. A betrayal illustrated in Christopher Booker’s column today:
The last occasion when our services were still able to operate in full accord with their proud traditions was the retaking of the Falklands in 1982, only made possible in the nick of time thanks to an array of ships which our cost-conscious defence secretary, John Nott, already planned to scrap. His successor, Michael Heseltine, as a fervent Europhile keen to integrate our defence industry with Europe, set in train the process whereby our helicopter industry came to be owned by the Italians and landed us with the Eurofighter project, a hugely expensive aircraft initially designed to fight a Cold War that soon afterwards came to an end.
In the Nineties, integration with Europe proceeded apace under Michael Portillo, who discussed with the French setting up a joint “carrier force”. But it really blossomed with Tony Blair’s St Malo agreement with France in 1998, leading the following year to the Helsinki Accords. Their intention was to set up a “European Rapid Reaction Force”, to which each EU country would make its own contribution, with Britain’s to centre on those two huge aircraft carriers only now taking shape.
After years of mismanagement under Blair, pouring billions into one botched MoD project after another, under this Government the betrayal has continued. Our demoralised Armed Forces have been deprived of ships, aircraft and men fit for any purpose they might be asked to serve until, as a monument to that betrayal, we are left with little more than those two half-built monster carriers and no aircraft to fly from them. Just as apt might be the fact that we now, thanks to a process Mr Heseltine set in train by flogging off Royal Ordnance, have to rely on the French to provide the nuclear triggers for the American missiles that make up our “independent” deterrent.Instead of bowing their heads as they lay their wreaths, they should hang them in shame.